Since starting my degree in 2015, gender has been something I have written about multiple times. I always thought that it was what related to me most, so I could understand and write about it easier. In myself, I'd like to believe that gender shouldn't or doesn't matter in any areas of life. I am who I am, you are who you are. Your gender doesn't matter, all that does is who you are and what you do.
Gender is fake. Irrelevant. Unimportant and unnecessary. In many ways, it is only a part of our society to hold people back, to segregate individuals and to define who is higher up on our social hierarchy. Our understandings of gender, and the roles and stereotypes attached to these, are so ingrained in our being that we can't escape them. We are somewhat blinded by tradition or 'that just how it is' that we are unable to progress anymore.
In some ways, it would be easier to remove gender completely, rather than attempting to redefine what men and women can or can't do. We are stuck in a loop. A lot of us are going round in circles, highlighting inequalities in today's society. While others state that we have reached gender equality. I mean we women are a lot better off today than they were say 100 years ago. I've been able to attend and graduate university. I've voted in political elections. I can drive, travel, work. I've had an almost identical experience as my male partner has. In many ways, writing about physical gendered barriers is quite hard for me. I haven't faced that many, but that doesn't mean they don't exist.
I guess for me, the thing I hate the most, and now fight for the most, is assumed roles and stereotypes. Although I haven't had a lot of physical barriers placed in my path, I often feel stigma or guilt for things that I know men wouldn't. I consider myself to be fairly open with myself and others. I will talk about anything and everything. The feeling of 'maybe that's too much information' doesn't happen to me very often, I just share everything. Yet I still feel embarrassed or weird about things. And quite often, I know that what I am doing is right for me, but I still feel worried someone may criticise me.
Coming off of hormonal contraception was a big one. I knew that it was the best option for myself, there was no way I could've carried on. Yet I was not only worried to tell my partner but I also just didn't tell my parents for months. I was so worried that people would try to change my mind. I did a lot of research on natural family planning before I stopped taking the pill, so I was prepared. But if I'm honest, a big part of me just felt like this shouldn't all be down to me and my body. My body doesn't like contraception, so why was I the one putting it in my body. I just felt it was unfair, it takes two people to make a baby, so it should take two to prevent one as well. And of course, my partner was fine with it.
I also just don't like labels. I hate being labelled as something, whether it is correct or not. Labels group individuals together and in turn separate you from others. I just want to be me, completely label and assumption-free. One slightly negative trait I have is that I defy labels and expectations. If someone tells me I should be something, or should be doing something, I will not do it. Whatever it is, I won't. Likewise, if I am told I can't do something, I will make sure I do it.
I am good with children, I'm very motherly. I'm not great cooking, or baking, or even keeping my room tidy. I love writing and reading, whereas I'm not that interested in sports. I love films and cinematography and will cry and nearly everything I watch. I love people, in general. I don't care about gender, race, sexuality, disability or anything in between. I don't care who I am, or others are told they should be. I don't fit in a tick box. No one does. People, and their lives, are complex.
When I was a teenager I tried to label myself, in order to understand myself better. For a long time, I have labelled myself as bisexual, when in fact I don't know 'the term' for who I could potentially love. I don't know if there is a box I fit in, and right now I don't care if there isn't. To some extent, I don't care what labels people have associated with them, all that matters is who you are and how you express yourself.
On the flip side, we cannot remove gender completely. As much as I believe it isn't necessary, a lot of people do. Just because I don't feel the need to label myself, doesn't mean that others feel the same. A lot of people do like labels, they do like fitting boxes. People like knowing who they are, and on a journey of self-discovery we should all be able to find who we really are. That can be easily done by labels.
The LGBTQ+ community is forever growing with individuals trying to find similarities and that is great. It is amazing when labels are used positively to help people. It is amazing to find people who identify the same way you do. People who express themselves and experience life the same as you.
It is always amazing to fit in and find individuals who relate to you.